Govt mulls blockchain, IoT and big data in future of health service

Looks for ‘next-generation’ technology’ to power national health infrastructure

The Australian Digital Health Agency has dipped its toes in the water for its future platform delivery ahead of Accenture's impending contract expiration next year. 

The Federal Government agency has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking advice on the ‘next-generation technology” to power its future digital health platform as Accenture’s $529 million deal comes to a contracted end in 2020.

On the agency’s radar are technologies ranging from blockchain to underpin its electronic health record (EHR) system, big data and analytics, cloud computing and ‘the internet of medical things (IoMT) -- essentially a more connected infrastructure.

“[There is] increased demand and spending are forecasted for the next decade [and so a] need to focus on an EHR system that seeks an efficient and cost-focused system,” RFI documents revealed.

Themes to be explored by the agency and providers will include the following; open, cloud and software-defined architecture; interoperability and data sharing and better management of unstructured data through analytics.

Specific technology on the table will include digital service delivery forms, ranging from bots, artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data and blockchain and mobile applications.

In addition, the Digital Health Agency is also considering the development of ‘smart APIs’ and an API strategy as an “integral” part of the data access policies.

The agency first tapped Accenture as its national infrastructure partner for an initial cost of $467 million for the-then dubbed personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) in August 2011. Accenture led a consortium that included Orion Health and Oracle.

The contract later led to the development of My Health Record, an online summary of Australian’s health information, which stoked national concern over data privacy and potential cyber risks.

Last year, parliament passed a law to allow citizens to opt out of My Health Record at any time, and permanently delete their records in response to this. 

Addressing this, the RFI also implores participants to consider the context of the fundamental components for the future of the system: privacy, security and consumer choice.

“Any system must be ‘secure by design’, from the beginning the system and software is designed to be secure,” the document added. 

Submissions to the RFI are expected to close on 3 December, with a briefing due to be held in Canberra on 16 October.

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